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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Water > Oceans > Ecosystems > Sea Life > Science > Animals > Environment > Evolution > If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front (2011/Oscilloscope DVD) + Madagascar: The Land Where Evolution Ran Wild (2011/BBC Blu-ray Set)

If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front (2011/Oscilloscope DVD) + Madagascar: The Land Where Evolution Ran Wild (2011/BBC Blu-ray Set)


Picture: C+/B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Documentary/Episodes: B-/B



What to do about protecting the environment, especially when there are some companies and individuals who irresponsibly pillage and over-pillage nature.  Protests help and I strongly believe the majority of people want preservation and protection to enough of an extent, while most environmental groups continue to protest the situation.  However, a group called the Earth Liberation Front decided to go a step further making them probably the biggest domestic terrorist organization since The Weather Underground.  Marshall Curry’s If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front (2011) shows their rise and fall.


Seemingly out of nowhere, amongst a new wave of such protests, the secret group started to burn down businesses, factories, mills and even vacation resorts to prove a point, they said.  They wanted to get attention, hurt the “capitalist system” and try to get their idea of exploitation to stop.  Unfortunately, their methods were dumb, old, obsolete, not well thought out and ultimately ineffective, especially when they collapsed.  Eventually, turning on each other, some went to prison and others were free.


Curry is able to interview various members and tell their story, as well as talking to business victims and authorities about the events and the idiocy that led to their downfall.  I agree that the environment is being overexploited, but two wrongs do not make a right and some of these people learned this the hard way.  I also think this would not have happened if a healthier pro-environmental discourse existed in our society that has been absent since the 1980s, yet that is not excuse for what they did no matte what they believed.


I liked this work, even when some of what was going on was predictable.  It shows that any history repeats itself when the past ifs forgotten, though an example of the arrogance comes form one member who said no one was killed during their destructive spree and (unlike the “corporate sprees”) stood for something because “no one was killed” which shows that being stupid is also dangerous when combined with doing stupid things.


When I was finished, I wanted Curry to ask a few questions he did not.  Did they realize why they were wrong?  Did they realize why they really failed?  Did they realize why they might have been more smug and self-righteous than they ever admitted?  Would they have done the same things in an exotic location like a rainforest?  Did they ever think the destruction and pollution they created with their destruction was anti-environment?  What about any plants or animals they killed, plus possible accidental killings of people (like what happened with The Weather Underground) that could have happened?  They are NOT heroes and Curry leaves that possibility open in an odd way.  I am happy to argue against that.


That made watching the next program all the more ironic.



Continuing their pretty prolific nature series BBC Earth, the famed broadcaster is back with Sir David Attenborough and Madagascar: The Land Where Evolution Ran Wild (2011), not to be confused with the CG Animated features from DreamWorks especially as this one has more animals and the locale is great.  Turns out that 80+% of the animals and plants found there are not found anywhere else, which the three episodes plus bonus show demonstrate, but this is comprehensive for being as limited a mini-series as it is.


The main episodes are Island Of Marvels, Lost Worlds and Land Of Heat & Dust, plus we have Attenborough & The Egg, counted in this set as a bonus episode, but we’ll treat it as a fourth show as some lists do.  The difference is this one flashes back to 1961 when he found the pieces of a giant egg.  He goes back to find out its origins and if it can reveal anything else about the indigenous animals there.  Needless to say there are plenty of surprises here and t is another winning document of the rare and of things most of us have never seen before, which is why it proves the BBC Earth series is alive, well and definitely should continue.


The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Madagascar is not bad, but there are some definition limits and some motion blur, though some of the issues were unavoidable under the circumstances.  We also get occasional vintage footage, as we do on the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 Tree, which has more motion blur and more analog video footage.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on both have their share of simple stereo and some older analog mono, though the best audio does not have any real surrounds to it and Tree has location audio issues at times.  Extras on Madagascar include that fourth bonus show and Lemurs Of Madagascar with Charlotte Uhlenbroek, while Tree adds Deleted Scenes Extended Interviews, an Original Theatrical Trailer, Updates on the subjects of the documentary, Q&A after an Ashland, Oregon screening and feature length audio commentary by Curry and Producer/Cinematographer Sam Cullman.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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